Climate Ministry Invites Cambodian Veterinarians to Assess Health of ‘Kavaan’ Elephant


ISLAMABAD, Sep 25 (APP): The Ministry of Climate Change has invited two Cambodian veterinarians to examine the health of the Asian elephant, Kavaan, in Islamabad Marghazar Zoo.

Kavaan is being relocated to a wildlife sanctuary in Cambodia, said a climate change ministry spokesperson on Friday. He said while Kavaan is awaiting transfer to a wildlife sanctuary, the Ministry wanted to ensure that the animal was fit for travel after approval from the veterinarians of the receiving country of Cambodia.

“We want to make sure that Kavaan was in good health to travel and there was no threat to his life during the process of relocation”, he stressed. He added, “A detailed health assessment by the Cambodian veterinarians will provide the climate change ministry and the receiving country an outlook of the toil the journey of Kavaan would take on his health and whether he should travel at all.”

Due to the mismanagement of the previous institutions looking after the Marghazar zoo, animals have suffered. But now, the climate change ministry has taken strict notice of the plight of the animals and is all set to resolve them, the spokesperson remarked. The Islamabad High Court in its writ petition No. 1155/2019 had directed to make the necessary arrangements for the relocation of Kavaan, which has spent more than 35 years at the Islamabad Zoo.

The Islamabad Wildlife Management Board (IWMB) in its meeting held on 13th July 2020 had decided that Kavaan should retire to the Cambodian wildlife sanctuary after its health assessment by the veterinarian team.

“Thus, the ministry wants to ensure that kavaan is in the best condition so as to bear the difficulties of the long journey to the wildlife sanctuary in Cambodia”, he highlighted.

The spokesperson remarked that the Ministry is of the view that it would ensure that since Cambodia is the one receiving him, the vets of the Cambodian wildlife sanctuary must have first-hand information about his mental and physical health, so that they can make necessary arrangements for his rehabilitation.

“It is purely in the interest of Kavaan, and we are being duly cautious keeping in mind the decision of the Honorable High Court”, said the Ministry’s spokesperson”, he insisted.

The Ministry of Climate Change had requested in July to the Foreign Office to direct Pakistan’s foreign mission in Bangkok to issue visas to the veterinarian staff of the Cambodian wildlife sanctuary, which were issued after due process. Meanwhile, a few conservationists in the expert committee overseeing the process of Kavaan’s shifting to Cambodia such as world-acclaimed biodiversity specialist Prof Z.B. Mirza, who is also member of the Islamabad Wildlife Management Board (IWMB) has expressed fears, saying that the elephant might not survive the journey to its retirement home in Cambodia, according to the Ministry’s spokesperson. He added that Prof. Mirza had argued that even if it did make it to the Cambodian wildlife sanctuary, other male elephants might attack Kaavan and kill him.

“For Kavaan, if due to any medical reasons cannot be re-located, then we plan to build a 25-acre mixed exhibit enclosure and import female companions for him, depending on the need. We are prepared to accommodate him either way”, said the ministry’s spokesperson. “The government is undertaking strict measures to ensure adherence to the Wildlife Act of 1979. It has already started work on biodiversity conservation under the Ten Billion Tree Tsunami Programme. “It is high time that we rid ourselves of the concept of orthodox menageries and introduce more naturalistic enclosures for our wildlife heritage”, insisted the Climate Change Spokesperson.

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